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Thursday, April 5, 2007

What's in your drawer?

In our living room we have an end table with a drawer. The drawer is useful for storing those odd little living room things like coasters and pens and batteries and paperclips and postcards that are too pretty to throw and, of course, maps of every national park in the western U.S. because you never know when you may get the urge to plan a camping trip to torture the teenagers.

It’s a pretty full drawer but it wasn’t always that way. In simpler times, when we owned barely one child, it was mostly empty.

When Lola was a bit shy of age 2 (I’m guessing here because I am, after all, the non-documenting parent) she had a relationship with that drawer that will stick with me long after Alzheimer’s has erased the memory of breakfast.

Lola used to put things in that drawer and close it and open it to see if the item was still there and when she saw that it was she would be SO surprised and take the item out, look at it and put it back in. Wash, rinse, repeat. Over and over. I vaguely remember some child development axiom that says this is an important step in learning that things which are out of sight, do not actually disappear for good. Whatever. I don’t know nothing about no child development but I do recognize something that will keep a kid entertained for hours.

Harmless fun. Until……
The child decides to put her hand in the drawer. And close it. Well, if it works with the little Weeble toy, it oughta work with your hand, right? Um, no. Which becomes evidenced by the primal screams that send the cat right up the drapes. So, open drawer, remove hand. Close drawer. Wait for pain to subside. Open drawer. Insert hand. Close drawer – not so hard this time because a little something was learned last time. Scream. Open drawer, remove hand. Look at hand. Put back in drawer. Close drawer. More gently this time because that may be the key. Cry in frustration. Stamp foot. Remove hand. Test again with the Weeble…..which works fine so….again.. with.. the.. other.. hand….
You probably wonder where I was in all this. Obviously nearby since I seem to know exactly what happened. Yes, indeed, I stood there watching the whole thing. Part disbelief and part intense curiosity – the very same things that make you unable to turn away from a bad car wreck!

I will admit here and now that very small people frighten me. I have no memory of being that age so I have nothing to work from. Sure I could read books and stuff but who has time for that – unless you don’t have any kids and then what would be the point? I worked full-time and my children were victims of daycare. "OH NO," you say "surely they are headed for rot and ruin." Um, no. So far so good. I think it was the best thing for them. Not because of anything those studies tell you about daycare but because they had teachers that were SO much more competent than their mother in the child development area (we won't even go into their father who thought everything should be done like his parents did it - thith ith ne hoding ny tongue on thath).

But really, daycare is so amazing. You hand over your whole monthly paycheck to these people and they tell you precisely what to worry about and what is normal. It's like a daily visit with the pediatrician. Jeez, they even potty train the kid for you and that would be worth all the rest of my money if I had any when I was done paying for daycare.

But I digress. So there I was watching the whole hand-slamming episode and part of me was thinking “I should take notes so Ms. Bonnie (who is a grandmother) can tell me if all this is normal” and the other part of me was thinking “this is like physics lab for toddlers”. Real hands-on learning, if you will.

Besides, she never once asked for my input and she does still own two fully functional hands leading me to think the lesson was eventually learned... without my help.
So you’re probably wondering "Jane, what does this have to do with anything in the here and now, 15 years later?" I was, too, for a minute but then I remembered where I was headed with this.

I have a drawer of my own. It’s called Wal*mart. As Omega and I left that store last night – without the photos that were ordered 9 days ago but weren’t available as promised, and without all the other things that we had picked out but, instead left at an empty checkout because there were precisely 2 checkouts open and no less than 10 people in each line, I thought about that drawer. I am certainly not condemning all Wal*marts and maybe not even the one in my neighborhood. Maybe I just have hideously bad luck. What I question is why I keep going back to a place that consistently gets me so riled! It really is ‘always something’ and still I GO BACK. I keep slamming my hand in the Wal*mart drawer.

I need to put a big sign on the dash of my car that says “Stay away from Wal*mart, STUPID!
Otherwise, I’m pretty sure my daughters are going to be taking notes so they can ask their Psychology teachers what to worry about and what is normal because there is no daycare for parents that are still employed and own the house you live in.

So, do you have a drawer of your own? Something you can’t seem to get through your head? Maybe you are just as masochistic as me.

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